Carbon Management and Sustainable Curriculum Design – The Key to Interdisciplinary Sustainability in St Andrews?

An introduction to CEED’s new “Carbon Management and Sustainable Curriculum Design” course and how it can help St Andrews build an interdisciplinary solution to our climate crisis.


Earlier this month, CEED announced a new four-part course called Carbon Management and Sustainable Curriculum. It is designed to help attendees understand the climate crisis, and to help set up a new Carbon Management module and to work on the ‘St Andrews Forest’. It has a very ambitious name and goal, but what is this course actually about?

The four-part series consists of three lectures and a workshop. The course provides some interesting topics to think about, from understanding the climate crisis to carbon capture, both natural and technological. It promises some real reflection, with every lecture lasting an hour and going into great detail. The speakers are all experts in their field – Doug Benn, an accomplished glaciologist leads the climate compass session; Jason Gray, a Carbon Market Regulator, and Sean Fleming, a World Economic Forum representative, discuss carbon offsetting, and Thomas Crowther, a world-leading ecologist, covers the topic of natural solutions to carbon management and the use of tree planting.

herefore, the session was great for those of us looking for a greater understanding, but also for learning some more of the science that we can use when discussing with others who are less invested.

With all of this in mind, many showed up to the first session which ran in Week 2, myself included. I was unsure what to expect, having been to many climate events, some pitched so only an expert would understand, and some pitched with a little too much repetition of the basics. I was unsure where the CEED workshop would lay on this scale. The Climate Compass session covered a detailed overview of the earth’s climate, helping attendees understand global warming from a scientific viewpoint. Doug Benn covered a range of topics very clearly, from external effects on the climate to the atmosphere, decadal trends in climate data and the anthropogenic influences on these. The session gave substantial background to the climate and a lot of scientific data and proof of the causes of the climate crisis. Therefore, the session was great for those of us looking for a greater understanding, but also for learning some more of the science that we can use when discussing with others who are less invested. The lecture was pitched so that it was understandable for everyone, but still interesting for those with some background on the topic. The first session certainly created hope for the rest of the course.

The next two sessions will focus on carbon capture. The first covers a more technological approach, giving information on what can be achieved in terms of carbon capture and storage and its various pros and cons. The second takes a more nature-based approach to carbon removal from the atmosphere – trees. Tree planting has grown in popularity over the past few years, but on what scale does planting need to be done? Can trees alone remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere? How can this be implemented? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered in this session.

So far, CEED’s Carbon Management and Sustainable Curriculum course seems like a very good use of our time throughout this semester, and a way to make a real difference in St Andrews.

The final session, however, has more of a local focus. Entitled “What is the St Andrews Forest? Your Chance to Create a New Module”, this session focuses on the direct impact that attendees can have on the sustainability of the local area. This session will provide an opportunity to learn about the planned forest in St Andrews and the new carbon management module, which is due to run in 2022. This highlights the best thing about the course – the transfer of theoretical knowledge to action. After the final session, participants will have the chance to create the module and to get involved. Anyone can get involved, as CEED are looking for people from all disciplinary backgrounds to contribute.

So far, CEED’s Carbon Management and Sustainable Curriculum course seems like a very good use of our time throughout this semester, and a way to make a real difference in St Andrews. We will see if the rest of the course is equally promising, so come along and join us to find out. If this hasn’t convinced you, you also get a LinkedIn badge and an award on your degree transcript, so make sure you don’t miss out!

You can sign up for the workshop here!

Art by Alex Rive

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